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Home Office plans to reintroduce use of reasonable force to remove families with children


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The government published its Child’s Rights impact assessment for the Illegal Migration Bill yesterday, on 4 July 2023. The document covers detention, accommodation, age assessments, removals, modern slavery, safe and legal routes, bans on grants of leave and citizenship (with exceptions), and the confiscation of electronic devices.

Ominously, the assessment states that:

“We are also reviewing our existing policy position in respect of use of reasonable force, or physical intervention, to enable the Home Office to facilitate removals of families with children under this Bill … Use of force is not currently used against minors for compliance/removal purposes. We do not envisage the use of reasonable force being used for such purposes under the auspices of the new Bill unless it is necessary as a last resort where other methods to ensure compliance have failed.”

A “targeted” consultation will take place before any changes are made to the policy.

The assessment also covers the use of scientific tests on children to assess their age, and removal from the UK while a challenge to age assessment is still ongoing. Despite these, and the other concerning proposals in the Bill that will negatively impact on children, the government has managed to conclude that “the Bill will have a positive impact”. Others will disagree, and if the Bill is implemented as planned, the consequences for many children will be dire. 

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Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan is an experienced immigration, asylum and public law solicitor. She has been practising for over ten years and was previously legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association and legal and policy director at Rainbow Migration. Sonia is the Editor of Free Movement.